Benefits of Fasting for Weight Loss Put to the Test

Benefits of Fasting for Weight Loss Put to the Test
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For more than a century, fasting—up to 382 days without calories—has been used a weight-loss treatment.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

I talked about the benefits of calorie restriction. Well, the greatest caloric restriction is no calories at all. Fasting has been branded the “next big weight loss fad,” but has a long history throughout various spiritual traditions, practiced by Moses, Jesus, Muhammed, and Buddha. In 1732, a noted physician wrote, “He that eats till he is sick must fast till he is well.” Today, about one in seven American adults report taking that advice using some sort of fasting as a means to control body weight.

Case reports of the treatment of obesity through fasting date back more than a century in the medical literature. In 1915, two Harvard docs indelicately described “two extraordinarily fat women,” one of whom was a “veritable pork barrel.” Their success led them to conclude that “moderate periods of starvation constitute a perfectly safe, harmless, and effective method for reducing the weight of those suffering from obesity.”

The longest recorded fast, published in 1973, made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. To reach his ideal body weight, a 27-year-old man fasted for 382 days straight, losing 276 pounds and managed to keep nearly all of it off. He was given vitamin and mineral supplements, so he wouldn’t die, but no calories for more than a year. In their acknowledgements, the researchers thanked him for his “cheerful cooperation and steadfast application to the task of achieving a normal physique.”

A U.S. Air Force study of more than 20 individuals at least 100 pounds overweight, most unable to lose weight on previous diets, were fasted for as long as 84 days. Nine dropped out of the study, but the 16 who remained were unequivocally successful at losing between 40 and 100 pounds. In the first few days, subjects were noted losing as much as four pounds a day. This was mostly water weight as the body starts to adapt, but after a few weeks, they were steadily losing about a pound of mostly straight fat a day. The investigator described their starvation program as a “dramatic and exciting treatment for obesity.”

Of course, the single most successful diet for weight loss—namely no diet at all—is also the single least sustainable. What other diet can cure morbid obesity in a matter of months, but practically be guaranteed to kill you within a year if you stick with it? The reason diets don’t work, almost by definition, is that people go on them, and then they go off of them. Permanent weight loss is only achieved through permanent lifestyle change. So, what’s the point of fasting if you’re just going to go back to your regular diet and gain it all right back?

Fasting proponents cite the psychological benefit of realigning people’s perceptions and motivation. Some individuals have resigned themselves to the belief that weight loss for them is somehow impossible. They may think they’re just “made differently” in some way, and no matter what they do, the pounds don’t come off. But the rapid unequivocal weight loss during fasting demonstrates to them that with a large enough change in eating habits, it’s not just possible, but inevitable. This morale boost may then embolden them to make better food choices once they resume eating.

The break from food may allow some an opportunity to pause and reflect on the role food is playing in their lives—not only the power it has over them, but the power they have over it. In a fasting study entitled “Correction and Control of Intractable Obesity,” a person’s personality was described as changing “from one of desperation, with abandonment of hope, to that of an eager [extrovert] full of plans for a promising future.” She realized that her weight was within her own power to control. They concluded: “This highly intellectual social worker has been returned to a full degree of exceptional usefulness.”

After a fast, newfound commitments to more healthful eating may be facilitated by a reduction in overall appetite reported post-fast, compared to pre-fast, at least temporarily. Even during a fast, hunger may start to dissipate within 36 hours. So, challenging people’s delusions about their exceptionality to the laws of physics with a period of total fasting may seem barbaric, but in reality, this method of weight reduction is remarkably well tolerated by obese patients. That seems to be a recurring theme in these published series of cases. In this influential paper, “Treatment of Obesity by Total Fasting for Up to 249 Days,” the researchers remarked that the most surprising aspect of the study was the ease with which the prolonged fast was tolerated.” All their patients evidently “spontaneously commented on their increased sense of well-being” throughout the process—even, “in some cases frank euphoria.” Though it’s essential that “fasting should only be prescribed under close medical supervision,” they concluded that they were “convinced that it is the treatment of choice, certainly in cases of gross obesity.”

Fasting for a day can make people irritable, moody, and distracted, but a few days in, many report feeling clear, elated, and alert—even euphoric. This may be in part due to the significant rise in endorphins that accompanies fasting. Mood enhancement during fasting is thought to perhaps represent an adaptive survival mechanism to motivate the search for food. This positive outlook towards the future may then facilitate the behavioral change necessary to lock in some of the weight loss benefits.

But is that what happens? Is it actually effective over the long term? And I’m sure you saw titles like this flash by. Is it even safe? We’ll find out, next…

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: ID 95839 via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

I talked about the benefits of calorie restriction. Well, the greatest caloric restriction is no calories at all. Fasting has been branded the “next big weight loss fad,” but has a long history throughout various spiritual traditions, practiced by Moses, Jesus, Muhammed, and Buddha. In 1732, a noted physician wrote, “He that eats till he is sick must fast till he is well.” Today, about one in seven American adults report taking that advice using some sort of fasting as a means to control body weight.

Case reports of the treatment of obesity through fasting date back more than a century in the medical literature. In 1915, two Harvard docs indelicately described “two extraordinarily fat women,” one of whom was a “veritable pork barrel.” Their success led them to conclude that “moderate periods of starvation constitute a perfectly safe, harmless, and effective method for reducing the weight of those suffering from obesity.”

The longest recorded fast, published in 1973, made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. To reach his ideal body weight, a 27-year-old man fasted for 382 days straight, losing 276 pounds and managed to keep nearly all of it off. He was given vitamin and mineral supplements, so he wouldn’t die, but no calories for more than a year. In their acknowledgements, the researchers thanked him for his “cheerful cooperation and steadfast application to the task of achieving a normal physique.”

A U.S. Air Force study of more than 20 individuals at least 100 pounds overweight, most unable to lose weight on previous diets, were fasted for as long as 84 days. Nine dropped out of the study, but the 16 who remained were unequivocally successful at losing between 40 and 100 pounds. In the first few days, subjects were noted losing as much as four pounds a day. This was mostly water weight as the body starts to adapt, but after a few weeks, they were steadily losing about a pound of mostly straight fat a day. The investigator described their starvation program as a “dramatic and exciting treatment for obesity.”

Of course, the single most successful diet for weight loss—namely no diet at all—is also the single least sustainable. What other diet can cure morbid obesity in a matter of months, but practically be guaranteed to kill you within a year if you stick with it? The reason diets don’t work, almost by definition, is that people go on them, and then they go off of them. Permanent weight loss is only achieved through permanent lifestyle change. So, what’s the point of fasting if you’re just going to go back to your regular diet and gain it all right back?

Fasting proponents cite the psychological benefit of realigning people’s perceptions and motivation. Some individuals have resigned themselves to the belief that weight loss for them is somehow impossible. They may think they’re just “made differently” in some way, and no matter what they do, the pounds don’t come off. But the rapid unequivocal weight loss during fasting demonstrates to them that with a large enough change in eating habits, it’s not just possible, but inevitable. This morale boost may then embolden them to make better food choices once they resume eating.

The break from food may allow some an opportunity to pause and reflect on the role food is playing in their lives—not only the power it has over them, but the power they have over it. In a fasting study entitled “Correction and Control of Intractable Obesity,” a person’s personality was described as changing “from one of desperation, with abandonment of hope, to that of an eager [extrovert] full of plans for a promising future.” She realized that her weight was within her own power to control. They concluded: “This highly intellectual social worker has been returned to a full degree of exceptional usefulness.”

After a fast, newfound commitments to more healthful eating may be facilitated by a reduction in overall appetite reported post-fast, compared to pre-fast, at least temporarily. Even during a fast, hunger may start to dissipate within 36 hours. So, challenging people’s delusions about their exceptionality to the laws of physics with a period of total fasting may seem barbaric, but in reality, this method of weight reduction is remarkably well tolerated by obese patients. That seems to be a recurring theme in these published series of cases. In this influential paper, “Treatment of Obesity by Total Fasting for Up to 249 Days,” the researchers remarked that the most surprising aspect of the study was the ease with which the prolonged fast was tolerated.” All their patients evidently “spontaneously commented on their increased sense of well-being” throughout the process—even, “in some cases frank euphoria.” Though it’s essential that “fasting should only be prescribed under close medical supervision,” they concluded that they were “convinced that it is the treatment of choice, certainly in cases of gross obesity.”

Fasting for a day can make people irritable, moody, and distracted, but a few days in, many report feeling clear, elated, and alert—even euphoric. This may be in part due to the significant rise in endorphins that accompanies fasting. Mood enhancement during fasting is thought to perhaps represent an adaptive survival mechanism to motivate the search for food. This positive outlook towards the future may then facilitate the behavioral change necessary to lock in some of the weight loss benefits.

But is that what happens? Is it actually effective over the long term? And I’m sure you saw titles like this flash by. Is it even safe? We’ll find out, next…

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: ID 95839 via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

This is the sixth video in a 14-part series on fasting for weight loss. If you missed the first five, they are:

Coming up next are:

And the series continues with:

If you don’t want to wait, you can watch them all now on a digital download.

My next book, How Not to Diet, is all about weight loss, and comes out in just over a month. I can’t wait for it to hit the shelves, and you can pre-order it here.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

106 responses to “Benefits of Fasting for Weight Loss Put to the Test

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  1. Why can’t people just eat a balanced diet in all the proper foods groups in moderation and stay away from junk, just like they teach in elementary grade school and call it a day? I have been living off that 1 sentence with perfect results.

    1. Flipper,

      People weren’t being taught those things in elementary school or in families. If you watch the documentaries with WFPB, you would see what television taught was better to eat and healthier.

      The fact that a whole country went astray and that 99.9% of people who diet fail and of the 1% who succeed, 90% gain it back, maybe it isn’t easy for people who have not gone through it to understand how much it messes up things like brain chemistry and hormones and stretch receptors and hunger hormones and emotions.

      I don’t know if you have ever had anything similar. Sometimes people have porn addictions or gambling or an emotional unrequited love relationship or something similar. Using cell phones too much or checking Facebook. Your brain gets changed.

      The Cheese Trap. The Pleasure Trap. etc.

      1. I am not talking about what tv show commercials were teaching, I said elementary grade school.
        I used to watch Jack Lalanne on black and white tv in the 1950’s and he was teaching the same as in my local elementary grade school which has served me with perfect health for decades.
        The bible says, – there is nothing new under the sun.

    2. We do not teach nutrition or how people should eat in school. Every time it is tried local school boards end up with irate parents. The kids come home questioning the food choices so parents that eat poorly threw tantrums when their children were being taught that what they were being fed at home was unhealthy.

      1. Reality bites,

        Yes, food is a highly political topic, even at a local level.

        Look at what schools serve for lunch. Many kids are eating 2 of their meals per day there.

    3. I’m 60 and I was carefully taught (with flashcards) in elementary school to eat bacon and sausage at breakfast. The implication was that we would die without a good meat protein source at each meal. This was in the 1960s. I’m not sure how old you are, but my niece and nephew had that same sort of nonsense taught 15 years ago.

      Even with imperfect dietary choices, you can be very fit and healthy up to a certain age. I was very fit, slender and healthy until fifty on a “moderate, not too junky” diet. I’m skeptical of anyone who claims perfect habits and health under 50. Almost anyone can be fit and healthy until 50. Are you living off that one sentence at 60 or 30? Just curious.

    4. flipper,

      I agree with you.

      Except that my food groups are now all plant based whole foods. Veggies and fruits, legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils) and WHOLE grains, and in moderation nuts and seeds. Eat a variety. Use Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen (which I call his Daily Double Dozen, since there are 24 boxes) as guidance. Avoid CRAP — Calorie Rich And Processed. Or, in other words, avoid processed foods, especially highly processed food. Cook from home from whole plant foods.

      It’s worked for me, my husband, and my brother. We each lost weight (35, 50, and 70 pounds, respectively) — and my brother went off all his meds, including for type 2 diabetes. I’ve also read that it’s worked for lots and lots of people. And we’ve kept the weight off, for years. We changed what we ate, and we have no intention of going back to what we were eating. It really is a change for life.

    5. I still think any diet will work. A diet to gain wait works every time because we love to eat food that is fattening. I’m saying diets work. The people that diet don’t.

    6. Flipper,
      I wish I was as perfect as you.
      Back when I went to elementary school, it was the 4 Basic Food Groups with the centerpiece of every meal being meat and/or dairy. Nutritional info was NOT on food packages-just ingredients. At home we started the day with Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch cereal with milk, sometimes pancakes and pancake (not real maple) syrup and Chiffon tub margarine (I am sure it was trans fat heaven) Sometimes my Mom made scrambled eggs with chopped bologna in it. When Pop Tarts were invented, we had those, too. We washed it down with more sugar—orange juice. Lunch was a balogna sandwich on squishy white bread, potato chips,an apple, milk and cookies or candy. If it was very cold out (we walked to and from school for lunch as well) Mom made us a TV dinner with mini hotdogs in sugary baked beans, or boxed Mac and cheese. Dinner was some type of pan fried meat or chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes,and our 1 vegetable of day(usually corn, green beans or peas)-we were expected to eat all of whatever had been put on our plates. When pizza and tacos became popular, we had those as well. We were allowed 4 pieces of candy or whatever baked dessert my mother had made that day-4 big cookies, pie, eclairs or cake. While watching tv in the evening, the family would have some potato chips (my mother could eat 2 or 3 but the rest of us ate more). Before bed, we kids had another bowl of sugar laden cereal with milk. We were given 10 packs of gum each week to be meted out (to ourselves). On Sundays after church, my Dad would stop and buy bags of hamburgers and fries and we would take long drives eating them and washing it all down with soda. We would also go to a store in our town and buy a case of soda-you could pick and choose the mix and match flavors you desired in your case(24) of bottles. We were allowed to drink this in the evenings. On the Sundays we didn’t go for a drive, we went to my Grandparents’ with aunts, uncles and cousins. We ate lots of fatty meats, buttery potatoes and casseroles. For snacks, Grandma handed out slices of hard salami or hot dogs right from the package and then cookies, cheesecake or chips. My Mom tells me that Grandma would feed me bits of butter when I was a baby.
      My brother was over 10 years younger than I was so by the time he got to high school, he had cereal AND a cheap frozen pizza for breakfast.
      Neither of my parents have had weight problems (My father, at 88, has Parkinson’s with dementia).
      ALL three of us kids have struggled with weight issues since late teenage years-none of us were overweight children. We have all yo-yo’d up and down in weight. I started starving myself in high school but would get so hungry by evening, I was ravenous, then eat until very full. I have studied nutrition on my own over the years, trying every diet and way of eating you can think of. I have an unhealthy relationship with food, as do my sister and brother. Right now 1 of us it at a good weight, 1 is a little overweight and 1 obese.
      Right now I am mostly WFPB. I can avoid sugar and sodas, don’t drink alcohol, but sometimes cheap, processed carbs like cheese crackers, chips, fast food, pizza or fried fish send out the siren song to me. If I were to give in, I could go off, like a drug addict, for a few months. It is a HORRIBLE CURSE. I hope it never happens to you.

      1. Thank you for sharing, it’s encouraging that you have acknowledged the power of food both in sensory terms and emotionally.

        How different our food choices are becoming through education! Still a very long way to go but education is increasing in term of not just health, but the further impact food choices make on our planet.

        Keep going with your mission, being spurred on with this fantastic tool from Dr. Greger and anchored in valuable education

      2. I grew up in small town central texas during the 1950’s and early ’60’s and if your family had money ‘everyone’ I knew ate like you have described. when television began to supplant going to the movies people bought folding metal tables to eat on while they watched television, that is they didn’t sit at the table anymore.

        there was a lot of poverty in the countryside just a mile from the courthouse both black and white people on small farms. we also had a black neighborhood and a latin american bario. from that time to the present there has evolved an enormous change because of science all rather pointing in the same direction, that is away from what it was, to what it should have been.

        I personally am glad to measure this passage of time and call it progress at least in the field of nutrition. we are in the midst of a revolution and I for one like a revolution going on at any given moment, this being preferable to the static and comfortable living among a lot of social injustice and supporting imprudent foreign wars along the way. when an idea’s time has come, it is like standing on the edge of the pacific ocean.

        four years ago taking a free college course in nutrition, a moderator wrote a personal letter warning that if I broadcast anymore suggestions that the group should be fasting to achieve weight loss and a general sense of well being, I would be unable to enter the discussion any more. now you see fasting has burst upon the scene supported by research and history with pros and not many cons. so it is good when life shows you are not always wrong. as the raven said, revenge is sweet.

    7. I had a large bowl of steamed kale, avocado slices, marinated tofu, sesame seeds and peanut sauce for breakfast. A meal like this almost completely eliminates any hunger pains for the entire day, at least in my case (age 51). This includes a desk job, and 4-5 days of working out per week. When you eat foods that are very high in nutritional value, hunger disappears. Once you start eating right, then it’s re-learning when and how many times you eat. It would not be hard to permanently change to one meal per day, when eating healthy. Out of habit (bad), I generally eat again, even though there is little to no hunger.

      A wise parent might completely ignore the conventional policy of 3 meals per day. Sometimes I’ll watch a parent who will preach to a child to finish their plate, even when they are not hungry. Why? And is this a healthy practice, my guess is that a child’s innate wisdom knows best. Eat only when you are hungry. I think we do a great disservice to children with this 3 meals a day policy.

    8. What may or not be taught in elementary grade school is one thing. What kids bring with them into school to eat is another. Soda chips candy cakes are a mainstay of the school diet for many kids.

  2. A one-off fast with return to previous unhealthy habits is, not surprisingly, uneffective in the long term and pointless.

    So excited that the series on fasting has begun. I’m sure that Dr. G will cover the other benefits of fasting, such as autophagy.

  3. I wonder if fasting would kick back cancers of ageing, like breast, prostate, colon and such. Or, would it even give you more energy (euphoria) and improve your physical abilities. If so, I would give it a try—if I thought it to be safe. My weight now is ideal. Would fasting make me look like I’m anorexic?

    1. A 1 day fast will not make any normal weight person suddenly anorexic. Or you could do what many of us that fast do daily, not eat for 16 hours a day and only eat within the remaining 8 hour window (I do 11am-7pm).

    2. I understand that fasting makes cancer treatment more effective and improves the quality of life of people undergoing cancer.

      Valter Longo and colleagues wrote an article on this general topic last year but it’s behind a paywall and Longo pushes his fasting mimicking diet approacjh.
      https://www.nature.com/articles/s41568-018-0061-0

      Some of the enthusiasm for this approach may be excessive though
      https://www.nature.com/articles/s41568-018-0098-0

  4. They are using terms like motivation and what I want to hear is about what happens with ghrelin and things like that.

    The whole point is that some of us have lost and gained and lost and gained and lost and gained the same 50 pounds with the whole hunger rebound thing.

    Does fasting take that hunger rebound away?

    1. For instance, bariatric surgery is supposed to get rid of the hunger hormone and, no, I am not considering that, but I do have friends who have looked into it, but it works by getting rid of hunger and suddenly they can eat better.

      If fasting has the hunger rebound then it is useless to me for weight, even if I would still consider it for cancer.

      1. Bariatric surgery did not get rid of hunger for any of the people I know who got it except through time. And that is not all it is cracked up to be. After the surgery they would get sick because eating more than a small amount makes them feel ill and over a short time they mentally associated eating large portions with being sick.

        1. Reality bites,

          It does lower the ghrelin hunger hormone, but the brain chemistry changes are still real. The heaviest person I know had her stomach stapled as a young person and she eats to comfort her emotions and that didn’t change. Back then, they didn’t think people would gain the weight back, but she is 400 pounds now, and the staple messed up her digestion but didn’t prevent the weight gain from happening.

          But I do know people who had the dieting and hunger cycle and they did finally succeed after bariatric surgery and it was because they had already changed a lot of their eating patterns, but were struggling with hunger and they didn’t get the hunger rebound after the surgery and went straight to their ideal weight.

          There are things like microbeads and other methods that are less invasive and cheaper, but not covered by insurance and not permanent.

          My friends come to me to research things so I have looked through it all, but I do know people who finally lost weight with bariatric surgery and it did work and not feeling hungry was what surprised them.

          The fact that a lot of people gain it back even after bariatric surgery tells me that it really is such a big problem.

          The whole world is starting to have problems with obesity is why I will say that it is closer to drug addiction.

          Yes, WFPB seems to work better than most things and, yes, intermittent fasting seems to work, if you stick with it.

          But I have a very close “keto/intermittent fasting” friend who is not losing weight and her friends (all older) are not losing with keto and intermittent fasting either.

          Dealing with hunger is the only issue people talk about.

          If it weren’t for hunger, people would probably never have transitioned to keto or WFPB.

  5. I think the sentence in this video was ” Permanent weight loss is only achieved through permanent lifestyle change” in the 5th paragraph. Doesn’t matter wether a person chooses to start with fasting or wfpb, if they relapse with food choices from their former lifestyle, their success won’t be long-lived.

  6. Maybe I am wrong here, but I personally don’t believe that people eat ‘bad’ food because they are hungry. I have seen people eat pizza after having dinner an hour before, or ice cream on top of a thousand calorie meal. I believe people make poor food choices because of the addictive nature of that food, and that they no longer distinguish between the feeling of addiction and the feeling of hunger. This is something that the experience of fasting can help with.

    1. People develop the bad habit of using food to sooth boredom. Has nothing to do with hunger. Some people also think feeling full is how they are supposed to feel ALL OF THE TIME and they still will eat regular meals on top of it.

    2. Very wise observation; I believe we are all addictive as our natural instinct to survive. What we are consistently presented with is what we will consistently choose. Maybe are human brain isn’t so amazing after all.

    3. Barb,

      Yes, the addictive nature of food, plus emotional issues like depression, plus, they aren’t getting their nutrition, even with the high quantity of food.

      I would have always said that I was a chocolate addict, until the moment I started supplementing with Magnesium and suddenly I wasn’t a chocolate addict anymore and it was so odd. It was gone.

      I am going to tell you that when I eat white potatoes or pasta, I crave sugar a few hours later, but that is different than the sense of being a chocolate addict and most of the past 3 years, I have successfully not eaten sweets, including chocolate.

      Inflammation going down and having depression improved and having hormonal swings stop all have changed things for me.

      There is a statistic from OA where they say that 80% of people who are morbidly overweight were sexually abused as young people, so that is a factor, but getting them off of the addictive foods fixes the eating part and maybe also improves the emotions. That should be a study.

      I have thought about it quite a bit. That group doesn’t want to be attractive and the adults around them also don’t want them to be attractive, plus the adults abusing them are trying to comfort them with food and bribe them with food, plus, their emotions are out of control. There are so many levels where they are at a disadvantage, but Dr. Lisle pointed out that in countries where they eat fewer addictive foods, the people who go through trauma, such as abuse, don’t gain weight the same way.

      1. Well, I don’t necessarily buy idea that Deb. I live amongst a sea of traumatised people, and yes, there are a couple of them use food, but many don’t. Giving up cigs, heroin, benzodiazapines, gambling is hard too, but people do it, even when their personal environment seems to conspire against them. Motivation IS key… without it, we cave under the pressures of our inner dialogue.

        1. Barb,

          80% of people who are morbidly obese come from sexual abuse, usually from a father.

          That is just a reality.

          It may well be that 80% of people who are sexually abused don’t become obese, but 100% of the people I know who are over 300 pounds did come from sexual abuse.

          There are other things, like, most people in prison were sexually abused as children, and, yes, most people who were sexually abused don’t go to prison. But it is the elephant in the room and the brains of people who were abused as children develop differently. They have different neurotransmitters and a different number of receptors for neurotransmitters and that does make things harder for them. Their brains are so much more vulnerable than yours that you could never possibly understand.

          1. Really??? Fact is, this is a nutrition forum. I see it as inappropriate to discuss these issues concerning myself or people who I know. You have made HUGE assumptions (HUGE!!) about what others may know or may have experienced.

            If you suffer disordered eating involving lingering emotional issues, seek counselling. Get professional help in setting goals towards a healthy life path!

              1. I am talking their process.

                I am sorry that I felt you wouldn’t understand because you said that you have always been slim and you described eating healthy food all of your life.

                I don’t know whether you have walked through addiction or abuse or not, but food addiction is a nutritional issue.

                More than ever once it becomes that there are foods which don’t cause it.

                I didn’t do OA very long, but I learned quite a bit.

                1. Watching documentaries on addiction and reading papers, people don’t get off of drugs with things like 12 steps very often either. It is more like chemo, which Dr. Greger said in many types of cancer buys people about 10 days or something.

                  The drugs, like Methadone are what works because they deal with the brain and people on Methadone and Suboxone aren’t allowed even at most 12 step meetings or the rehabs, but things like 12 Step meetings don’t work 90% of the time and the drugs do work.

                  People who never ate the addictive foods and who never messed up their ghrelin or stretch receptors do not understand. There was a diet doctor who said that he didn’t understand until he dieted himself and suddenly developed a weight problem. That is why WFPB is different, but people who grew up eating mostly healthy foods don’t even have a concept that 99% of people fail when they try to lose weight and that is over and over and over and over again, meaning that the people were motivated enough to keep trying every diet on the books and paying $10,000 for bariatric surgery and still they fail.

                  Bright Lines is one of the groups which understands that some people really do have different brains.

                  But Dr. Lisle has convinced me that it is just the food.

                  And, in response to Dr. Greger’s comment in the video that some people believe they can’t lose weight, I would say that people do lose weight, and then gain it back even after bariatric surgery is so real to them that they genuinely no longer have a belief system that is even open to it.

                  1. Americans spend $72 billion every year on weight loss.

                    327.2 million people are spending $72 billion every single year.

                    You can’t tell me that they aren’t trying their hearts out.

                    1. Globally about 2 billion people over the age of 18 were overweight and that doesn’t include the children.

                      2 billion

                      And it is getting worse every year.

                      It isn’t the moral failure of individuals issue and we tend to make it that.

                      They are trying to change that propaganda about drug addiction because so many people became addicted under their doctors’ care, but we still blame individuals for systemic problems.

                    2. It is billions with a “b” just for adults.

                      And in America alone they are spending 72 billion just on the weight loss part every single year.

                      Add the medical part and the reality that many of the people are walking with doctors who are giving them things other than WFPB.

                      It is not that people know how to eat at all.

          2. Deb,

            The folks I know who are obese were not sexually abused as children. In fact, from what I know, they had very happy childhoods. I don’t know why they weigh so much.

            1. Dr J.

              There are lots of reasons people do use food, but one out of three girls and one out of 5 to 7 boys are abused and that is the same answer wherever in the world studies have been done.

              Very morbidly obese people come from trauma. 80% of hoarders and porn stars and prostitutes and prisoners all come from the same things.

              1. Dr Lisle said that if they don’t eat things like processed food it doesn’t tend to happen, but their brains are different is a study. They have different neurotransmitters and a different number of receptors. Their brains form differently.

        1. Skeptical Grammy,

          Yes, that is another big one.

          Food = love
          Food = celebration of milestones holiday and birthdays and weddings and funerals and graduations and baby showers and bridal showers
          Food = consolation
          Food = ritual & spiritual union
          Food = a remedy to boredom
          Food = movie sharing
          Food = what we give when people are grieving
          Food = what we give for holiday presents

          Most of that is still true for me, except that the food is healthier.

          1. I don’t do as much boredom eating and I haven’t been depressed in a long time, and I tend to not have ever really needed snacks at the movies.

            But food is such a complex emotional experience.

            People who eat together bond more. I believe that is a study. But it might have been a church study.

            1. I don’t have cable anymore, but watch the food channels and food is passion.

              I feel like this WFPB walk is about passion and celebration of food for me, but that might be my personality.

  7. Permanent lifestyle change makes sense. Some people find it hard to get there maybe for any number of reasons—emotional, metabolic, habits passed on (even through generations), wrong information from the top down, abundance of fast food, even healthy eating being looked down upon by peers. It seems that the benefits of better health should win out though for just about anyone with two brain cells.

  8. I suggest that a distinction be made between fasting and starving. Until fasting reaches the point it is using muscle and organ protein to sustain itself, it is fasting. Afterward, it is starvation and if not reversed soon will lead to death. Given the recent literature on fasting, the consensus is that a healthy individual can water fast for 30 to 40 days safely, albeit under medical supervision. Bottom line: do not starve.

    1. My Google found this:
      Fasting is NOT about not eating at all. The concept of fasting actually suggests that you eat the right things at the right time, not that you shouldn’t eat at all. And this is precisely the reason why fasting is good for your health.

      The primary difference between fasting and starvation is the severity of symptoms experienced. People who fast for a short period of time may experience relatively minor side effects like hunger, headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, low blood pressure and fatigue. In contrast, those who are starving can develop brain dysfunction, heart failure and convulsions and ultimately die of starvation if the condition persists. The longer an individual fasts, the more likely he is to expose himself to some type of starvation.

      Before starting a fast, talk with your health care provider. Individuals who take certain prescription medications or have chronic health conditions like anorexia, heart disease or diabetes should not participate in a fast. Most fasts that last no more than five days can be done safely at home when adequate fluid intake is incorporated and exercise is limited. People who fast for longer than five days may be encouraged to do so under the supervision of an experienced health care provider.

      1. The whole concept of “doing it under the supervision of an experienced health care provider” doesn’t happen very often.

        There have been times with prayer movements that whole groups of young people water fasted for 40 days with no ill effects. I water fasted for 3 days and fainted and hit my head on concrete.

        Still worse, a man from my old church became like a statue. His eyes were open, but he became totally unresponsive. Whole groups of people tried to wake him up, but he was like stone. It ended up being electrolyte problems, but he didn’t become responsive until the ambulance took him away.

        1. Deb,
          >>> It ended up being electrolyte problems, but he didn’t become responsive until the ambulance took him away.

          This does not surprise me in the least. As you might know, Longo does not recommend water only fasts. I recently read a published medical case report by True North, in which one person had life threatening hyponatremia under their supervision. So you can imagine how risky unsupervised, long water fasts can be. It amazes me a group of people would think fasting unsupervised for 40 days would be a good idea.

          1. Spiritual people do it often. But it is usually young people and it is usually prayer-related.

            Things like wars or natural disasters where leadership calls for people to pray.

            Many people do it during Lent.

            I won’t do it anymore unless I get cancer.

            I have fainted and hit my head on concrete more than once and I feel like it contributed to my brain problems.

            1. “Many people do it during Lent.”
              – – – –
              Back when I was a kid growing up Catholic, it was expected that all parishioners 21 and over would “fast.” Big whoop! This meant they could not eat between meals (which I’ve been doing since my early twenties, but only because I want to) and no meat on Friday. Only fish was allowed. If they intentionally ate meat on Friday, this was considered a grievous (mortal?) sin and they had to get their sorry butt to confession ASAP or else they’d fry in hell forever and ever. And ever. :-(

              In other words, you could fill your bellies with lots of meat 3X a day, if you wanted to. On Fridays my area often had a fish fry going somewhere. Deep-fried perch or something. :-(

        2. I’m coming away with more information points the more I listen to this message.
          –This type of fasting should be for the morbidly obese and should be medically supervised.
          –It is well tolerated and even enjoyable (endorphins).
          –Afterwards the patient may make better food choices.
          –The preferred way of eating is a nutritionally healthy way that one sticks to.

          1. Good summary Dan! I would hope that readers who are new to wfpb eating have checked out the success stories found at sites like Dr McDougall’s, and Forks over Knives. People DO lose weight enjoying whole foods and resolve many health issues along the way.

  9. For me, when I’ve fasted, the relief of not having to think about food – what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat – cooking, cleaning up, shopping – that whole narrative is gone and I enjoy that benefit as much or more than any physical one. How much mental energy does the topic of food and eating take up in our days? A lot! :)

    1. Diana,

      That mental energy is why I was eating one great-big salad every single day from March until a few weeks ago. I agree that it is exhausting to even think about what to eat.

      I have been doing Mama Sezz food delivery for the past 2 weeks. I still haven’t made my mind up about food delivery. It has been nice to have some hot meals and to not have to think about things.

      Two of the dishes were spicier than I would make my own and 2 were blander. Mostly, they put 3 servings worth in plastic trays or plastic bags and I did not find it easy to divide the bags into 3 servings. I loved their lazy lasagna, but that was one of the dishes that was supposed to be 3 servings and I did okay with the dishes which said to divide into 2 but failed at the divide by 3 dishes.

  10. I started intermittent fasting a couple of years ago after watching a video with Dr. Fung on the subject. Although I was already WFPB, I wanted to lose 10lbs to get to the low end of my BMI. My current diet had been maintaining my weight and not losing it. So, I would fast by only eating dinner for a week and then would do 24 hour fasts. I lost the weight and now use intermittent fasting daily by not eating before noon. It has helped me to maintain my weight.
    I have found that in our American society, we promote people snack at any sign of hunger, so the fat stores never get used and our digestion never gets a rest. I recommend IF to anyone who wants to lose weight and maintain it. There are so many benefits.

  11. In addition to my prior comment, I assumed that people know that fasting is not meant for losing weight. It is for correcting metabolic syndrome, detoxifiying fat cells, autophagy, lowering blood pressure, resting the digestive system, stimulating stem cell regeneration, religious reasons, etc. However, it does help reset your taste buds and may help you migrate to a better diet, which may explain how that person maintained his weight loss in one of the cited studies. After a fast, chips taste too salty, cake and pastries are too sweet, pizza tastes greasy, burgers and chicken taste chalky. On the other hand, vegetables taste sweeter and some fruits become almost too sweet.

    1. I use regular periodic fasting as one tool in a total program. My body appreciates a dedicated time for “cleaning house” and maybe some remedial healing, and my mind appreciates the time to step back from my usual routine and plan ahead for healthier future eating choices. Nothing magic about this.

  12. Doritoes gross me out now. Like eating straight salt. How people can eat a bag of that and not die instantly from sodium overload is freaky.

    1. I agree. It is impossible to be overweight eating a low fat “Starch Solution” style WFPB diet based on potatoes, corn meal, beans, whole grains, pumpkin, and oats. You can eat every meal to satiation.

      1. Blair,

        It isn’t impossible.

        I know that firsthand.

        But “Starch Solution” type diets is what I am currently trying to do and have been for a while. I didn’t lose much weight the first month of it, but when I added in some watery fruit, I did start very slowly losing ounces. I cheated with birthday cupcakes last week so I don’t have an answer about whether I will lose weight, but maybe.

      1. Where is the evidence for this statement of NC’s?

        It may be correct if we exclude fruits, seeds and beans from the category ‘plants’ However, those things are all included in most plant based diet recommendations.

        And if we look at wild orangutans who live on such diets, well, they aren’t exactly sylphs are they?

  13. Dr. Gregor,
    I’ve tried to search the videos… Do you have videos reviewing the “healthy” or “non-healthy” scores on sparkling water? I love them so much that I’d rather drink them than water….. However, I fear that “no sugar, no calories, and natural flavors” means that it’s an artificial sugar…. which I’m adamantly against having in my diet (unless it’s natural Stevia).
    Do you score them as “healthy”…. or just a “lesser evil” than sodas….which I have tried to quit…..mostly.

    As a dentist, I share your stuff all the time…… referring people to both you and Dr. McDougall. Grateful! Scott Wagner, DMD, LVIF, FIAPA

    1. Dr. Scott Wagner,

      What about plain sparkling water? eg: https://nutritionfacts.org/2019/10/22/sparkling-or-still-water-for-stomach-upset-and-constipation/

      Also, to save on plastic and aluminum cans, you can make your own sparkling water. I have a Mastrad Pur Fizz, though Soda Stream is probably more popular. There are probably others with which I am not familiar. I don’t add flavors, since I don’t see any need to. Sometimes, I will add a squeeze of lemon or lime. But then, I also like chillled tap water — it’s my drink of choice.

      And most carbonated drinks list their ingredients on the container. So you would know what is used to flavor and/or sweeten them.

      1. Dr J has provided you with a good response and the suggestion to look at the label to see what else is added BESIDES the carbonated water.Besides plain water you might consider adding a little lemon juice or hibiscus tea punch (although rinse or use a straw because both can be hard on your teeth)

    2. Dr. Scott Wagner,

      Look up your favorite brands and they will tell you.

      For instance, LaCroix’s website says its natural flavors are “natural essence oils extracted from the named fruit used in each of our LaCroix flavors.”

  14. Really great topic and especially enjoy reading the comments. BUT, I haven’t seen mentioned that we are less physically active and need to be up and about more. We not only reward ourselves with excess food while sitting, reading, TV, movies, internet, streaming,—what about setting a goal that you will be up every hour and walk quickly 350 steps regardless of what else you are doing. This is doable even on a job or when you are home commit to it. I do this and it takes three minutes, I explain why to my neighbors when I go by and now they are into doing it too. Don’t need gym equipment, fancy shoes, running fast. It’s enjoyable. Got to go. It’s almost time for a quick walk. Be well friends. I’m in my 80’s.

    1. “I’m in my 80’s.”
      – — – –

      Ruthie, when you tell people this, do they ever exclaim, “Well, God BLESS ya!”??? :-)

      1. Or, at the very least, bounce on your rebounder for a while. During the winter months, especially, it’s worth the investment.

  15. where are humans supposed to get vitamin b12 from? and do you have any evidence to prove it? if you dont, are you capable of finding out? thankyou, as much as i want to stay vegan, its become too stressful and i find myself not being able to live my life always worrying about it. i should have done more research before going vegan, i listened to Dr Mcdougal 5 years ago and thought the only thing i had to worry about was b12 and that i could get it from unwashed food i grow in my garden, i had no idea he was just assuming this.. he got me for 5 years tho! but after watching your videos ive come to realise this vegan thing really isnt so natural and is more for people who arent interested in a natural instinctive health approach, the city type are probably more inclined, i love animals, but not to the point where id have to eat certain foods that i dont like and take supplements, just isnt for me unfortunately, i will never take supplements and im proud of that, more of an instinctual kinda person, a lion could be vegan if you gave it supplements, but im not willing to turn to pills and instructions, we arent living in space and forced to do so yet so id rather just focus on being as natural and self sustainable as possible while we still can!

      1. YR, OK, where is the evidence that this is always true? My gut tells me this is not trustworthy advice. Kind of reminds me those poor squirrels who try to avoid a on coming car by turning back in front of the vehicle.

      2. my instincts tell me that i shouldnt eat animals, i shouldnt have to eat certain foods for certain nutrients, and that i shouldnt take b12 supplements, trust me i feel like i NEED to trust myself just so i can live free from worries, but then i read about farm animals and humans who develop b12 deficiencies and read all the things that can happen from not having good levels of b12 and it keeps me in a fear mongering state

    1. It sounds like you are trying to rationalise something or other. Good luck to you anyway but a couple of comments for what they are worth:++

      First, his site doesn’t promote a ‘vegan’ diet. It promotes whole food plant-based diets Such diets may include small amounts of animal fppds if we wish and number of long term followers/commenters here do include small amounts of animal foods in their diets. While Dr Greger personally almost certainly is a vegan,he has repeatedly said that it is not a case of ‘all or nothing’. Any step along the spectrum of plant based eating is likely to be beneficial.
      https://nutritionfacts.org/?s=all+or+nothing

      Secondly, as far as B12 is concerned, the US National Institutes of Health advise that EVERYBODY over 50 (and some people under 50 with specific conditions) – ‘vegan’ or not – should take a B12 supplement or eat B12-fortified food…………………..

      ‘Many older adults, who do not have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomach to absorb the vitamin B12 naturally present in food. People over 50 should get most of their vitamin B12 from fortified foods or dietary supplements because, in most cases, their bodies can absorb vitamin B12 from these sources.’
      https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/

      1. “….and number of long term followers/commenters here do include small amounts of animal foods in their diets.”
        – – – – –

        I’m one of them. :-)

      2. Fumbles,
        I think Jaden has a valid point about McDougal’s position on vitamin B12. For instance, from
        https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/nov/b12.htm
        published in 2007.

        “On average, for someone raised on the Western diet, about 2 to 5 milligrams of B12 are stored, mostly in the liver. This means most people have at least a three year reserve of this vital nutrient. Conservation of B12 by the body boosts the time this supply lasts by 10-fold. After excretion through the bile into the intestines most of the B12 is reabsorbed by the ileum for future use. As a result of this recirculation it actually takes, on average, 20 to 30 years to become deficient after becoming a strict vegan. That is if no vitamin B12 were consumed—which is impossible, even on a strict vegan diet, because of bacterial sources of B12 from the person’s bowel, contaminated vegetable foods, and the environment. ”

        He might have revised his views since 2007, but I have always found his position on vitamin B12 insupportable and possibly putting some followers at risk of deficiency.

      3. no body over 50 in my family history has had issues with b12 luckily, tho if i keep taking these supplements i will probably mess up my genetics and this might become the case

    2. Jaden, You need to do what works for you. However, keep in mind that eating factory farmed animal foods is the antithesis of eating/living naturally.
      The incredible suffering endured by those animals aside, factory farmed animals are fed lots of supplements including vitamin B12. So is it really living more naturally to shift taking a B12 supplement from you to factory farmed animals? If you want to eat animals naturally, then I suggest you consider only eating what you personally kill. Now, that I could respect as living naturally.

      1. i was thinking more the odd wild oysters as they seem to be high in all of the nutrients that vegans arent getting enough of, id rather get my nutrients from fruits, but i dont see any evidence that fruit has enough, if i cant trust my instincts something is wrong

          1. as a native of tasmania i grew up smashing oysters open with rocks and eating them raw for no other reason than its what my ancestors did lol (tastes like crap) that article makes me not want to bother, i also dont want to eat living things, fruitarian ideally, without any supplements, maybe ive got an obsessive compulsive eating disorder or something, 2 stubborn to accept any thing else tho, deffinatly going through rough times atm trying to get away from internet fear mongering

    3. Jaden, Please review these resources to explain why Vitamin B is so essential.
      https://nutritionfacts.org/2011/08/25/vegan-b12-deficiency-putting-it-into-perspective/
      “It’s true, plants don’t make B12. Animals don’t make it either. B12 is made by microbes that blanket the earth. These bacteria grow in the guts of animals, which is why their bodies and products can be a source of this vitamin. Our herbivore primate cousins get all they need ingesting bugs, dirt, and feces, and we may once have gotten all we needed by drinking out of mountain streams or well water. But now we chlorinate our water supply to kill off any bugs. So we don’t get a lot of B12 in our water anymore, but we don’t get a lot of cholera either—that’s a good thing!…”
      If you read this site regularly you’ll know Dr. Greger does not push supplements, in fact just the opposite. However, in the case of Vitamin B12 there is good evidence that vegans (and many omnivores) are not be guaranteed of obtaining enough B!2 through food. For the reasons explained in video, this is the one supplement that is recommended. the fact that it’s recommended hardly makes eating whole food plant based “not natural.” Remember we’re talking about science here not some “pure” diet that does not consider reality. For more reading on this topic please review these two other resources which explain, as you asked, about sources of Vit B12, but again these may not be enough:
      https://veganhealth.org/vitamin-b12-vegan-sources/
      http://jacknorrisrd.com/comments-on-doug-grahams-b12-statements/.

  16. Google featured a person of the day maybe around a year ago. It was one of the first women engineers. So I did the Wiki read on her. Turns out she was one of the best distance walkers. And, she was a breatharian. That is, she did not eat and claimed to get what she needed from air. Sorry that I do not recall her name. She was Russian. I wonder if she was fasting or just not eating.

      1. This whole aura thing is amazing to me. Supposedly, all of us should be able to see see auras around people if we try hard enough. I once had my aura “read” at a psychic fair. I think they told me it was a bright yellow, or something. Or was it green? One or the other.

        Gengo, how does one go about “working” on one’s aura, anyway? Good luck with it, whatever this entails. *smirk*

  17. What’s the effect of this kind fast on the gut microbiome?

    The effects of biome and health have been mentioned here before – for some reason the articles cited talk about the mental changes after a long fast without considering that the entire flora the person had must have shifted after starvation. I’m also curious how it affected their intestine, after all if bypassing part of the intestine causes severe issues that get solved when it’s “re-fed”, what happens when the digestive system is exposed to a long fast?

    I don’t actually know if that would be a cause, or a supporting element in the lifestyle change after a long fast, but I’d love to see/read some research about that.

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